“A Season of Magic” by Sarah Courtney, guest post, excerpt and giveaway

I love the title, it may sound silly but for whatever reason I already like this book because of its title. However, I am going to just write below the first sentence of the blurb that hooks me too:

Everyone knows Elizabeth and Jane’s parents were magical murderers. But blood isn’t everything.

Wait a minute! What?? Magical murderers? Are we talking of Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet?! Why? What happened? Ok, let´s continue reading:

When the girls are forced to reveal their elemental magic, it does not matter to the Mage Council that they did so only to save lives. Their parents were traitors, and the entire magical community is simply waiting for them to descend into evil themselves.

The Council reluctantly admits Elizabeth to the magical university (and unofficial marriage market) called The Season, where she will learn how to control her powers. If she can keep her head down and avoid drawing any untoward notice, she might be able to graduate and finally be accepted as a fire mage.

But fading into the background will be difficult. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, nephew to Lord Matlock of the Mage Council and a student himself, is assigned to observe her and report any misstep. One mistake could send her back to her foster parents, the Bennets—or worse, to prison. Yet when that mistake inevitably comes, he stands up on her behalf. Could he be an ally instead of an enemy?

When pranks between classmates become something more dangerous—and potentially deadly—Elizabeth will be forced to depend upon her friends—including Mr. Darcy. There’s something terrible lurking beneath the surface of the Season, and it will take everything Elizabeth has to survive it.

I am not really sure I like pranks anymore if they can be so dangerous. However, what about the foster parents? So, when did their biological parents acted? Where they executed as they were traitors? Is Jane going to the university too? How is Mr. Darcy in this book? and Lord Matlock? Many questions and one way to answer them… reading A Season of Magic by Sarah Courtney.

Sarah Courtney loves to read fantasy, fairy tales, and Pride and Prejudice variations, so what could be more fun than combining them? She currently lives in Europe where she homeschools her six children and still manages to write books, which has to be proof that magic exists!

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Today Sarah Courtney is sharing a lot with us, but do not forget to visit the other stops on the tour!

July 28 Austenesque Reviews

July 29 My Jane Austen Book Club

August 1 From Pemberley to Milton

August 2 Savvy Verse & Wit

August 4 My Vices and Weaknesses

August 5 Babblings of a Bookworm

What about buying A Season of Magic? You can already do it!

Amazon US Amazon CA Amazon UK Amazon ES Amazon DE

Sarah is explaining some important things about this magical world in A Season of Magic, then she is sharing a funny excerpt. However, why is Wickham here? (oops! mini-spoiler)

Thank you for having me on My Vices and Weaknesses! My latest Pride and Prejudice variation, A Season of Magic, is a fantasy that takes place at a magical university called “the Season.”

Many people in this fantasy world have some degree of magic known as a talent, but it is only those who can control the elements themselves—fire, wind, water, and earth—who attend the Season.

Fire mages protect farms, grasslands, and woodlands from the dangers of uncontrolled fires. They can help warm crops or prevent frost when it is unseasonably cold, and they can lower fevers of the sick. Wind mages can guide clouds, winds, and storms, clear smog and smoke so that cities have fresh air, and clean the air of contaminants. Water mages can find water during droughts, purify water that is dirty or carries disease, and help control floods. And earth mages can help both with shaping the earth and with growing and protecting plants.

Elizabeth would love to use her own fire magic to help others. But her parents exhibited the worst side of power. While elemental mages can use their powers for good, they can also use them for evil. After her parents’ crimes became known, she and Jane became targets of scorn. It is challenging enough to attend the Season as an orphan, much less one with notorious and hated parents.

Mr. Darcy is the nephew of Lord Matlock, a member of the Mage Council, and so he feels obligated to keep an eye on Elizabeth in case she turns out like her parents. Or, at least, that’s the initial purpose of his interest.

Elizabeth begins to grow weary of Mr. Darcy’s constant attention and decides to play a little trick on him in the scene below. Along with her element of fire, she has the talent of metal-working. She can shape any metal without needing heat or tools.

In this scene, each student is supposed to concentrate on their element while their teacher, Mrs. Suckling, walks around the room making deliberate attempts to distract them as a test of their focus.

***

Elizabeth could not help a glance at Mr. Darcy. He was still looking at her, his tree complete. But then, it was not as if he had to do much once the tree was grown. Earth was the easiest element for this sort of practice.

His hands stroked the small trunk of the tree, and Elizabeth noticed his signet ring. Almost without thinking about it, she reached her metal magic out to the ring. Gold, then. Easy to work with.

A bit of mischief rose in her, and she smiled to herself, her eyes on her fire sphere, as she stretched the ring just a bit. Not enough to be ridiculous, just a couple of sizes.

Mr. Darcy cut off a word of exclamation and leaped to his feet. His ring had slipped off his finger and bounced to the floor.

“Mr. Darcy, as much as I appreciate your addition to my distractions, I think it would be better if you remained focused on your own creation,” Mrs. Suckling scolded.

Elizabeth hid a grin as she neatly shrunk Darcy’s ring back to its usual size as he picked it up and placed it back onto his finger. His face was red, but he made no response to Mrs. Suckling but a short bow. His tree had collapsed in his absence, and he busied himself growing it again.

She waited until he was busy adding more leaves to his tree before she stretched the ring again. This time he caught it just as it bounced onto the desk, which was a little disappointing.

He eyed the ring suspiciously, but as she had shrunk it back to its usual size as he caught it, there was nothing to notice. This time, though, he did not put it back on his finger. He placed it on his earthen desk and continued to shape his tree, thickening the trunk and spreading new branches.

Elizabeth sighed and returned to her fire just in time to jump when Mrs. Suckling whipped her ruler through the air just in front of Elizabeth’s face. Her fireball disappeared.

Mrs. Suckling looked thrilled. “Miss Bennet, your attention cannot be so easily distracted. Fire is a dangerous element! Someone could die if you jumped and lost control the moment you were startled.”

“Yes, Mrs. Suckling.” Elizabeth pulled her fire back to life and began to shape the ball again, wondering whether she could make the ball able to keep its shape without continuous attention. If she could create it and give it the initial heat but leave it to keep burning, none of Mrs. Suckling’s tricks could destroy it.

She had almost forgotten about her little games with Mr. Darcy’s ring until the end of class.

“Has anybody seen my ring?” Mr. Darcy called just after Mrs. Suckling declared them done for the day.

Elizabeth bit her lip and glanced at his desk. She did not see it. Had she taken her little joke too far? He would never have lost the ring if he had kept it on his finger.

Mr. Wickham agreed. “I never take mine off during the day,” he said with a grin. “You cannot lose it if it is on your finger.”

Miss Bingley said, “I see it, Mr. Darcy.”

There, half buried in the trunk near the bottom of the tree, was his signet ring.

He groaned as he reduced his tree to an acorn and retrieved his ring. “Thank you, Miss Bingley. I should not have liked to lose it.” He put it back on his finger, shaking his head.

Elizabeth felt an extra bounce in her step on her way to Lord Stornaway’s class. She was tempted to tell Mr. Wickham that she had got a little revenge on Mr. Darcy, partly for his sake, but she thought it better not to. Mr. Wickham might let it slip, and it was better if her prank remained unknown.

Well, unknown to the subject of the prank, but she would still enjoy mulling over Mr. Darcy’s red face when his ring went bouncing across the floor. Yes, she would relive that many times, indeed.

Anybody is surprised that Elizabeth´s talent is with fire? Me neither and I love it!

I like cheeky Elizabeth but I do not like Wickham being already friends with her, as I can read from these lines. However, will Darcy know what´s going on with his ring? I need to know and read it too. I really want to know more of how they end up here, what was what her parents did and much more. Above all, how do we get to a HEA? Because we get one, right? 😉

Sarah is giving away one eBook per blog stop. If the winner is from the US and prefers a paperback, he/she may choose that instead of the eBook. If the winner has already preordered the book, he/she may choose another one of Sarah’s books for their prize.

Comment on what you have read in this post, or if you have read the book, what do you think about it (no spoilers please). You can also give us your opinion on magic in Pride and Prejudice variations.

The contest is open until the 8th of August 2022 at 23:59 CEST. After this date I will announce the winner. Good luck!!

“Kiss me Goodnight, Major Darcy” by Georgina Young-Ellis, excerpt, review + giveaway

The wind ruffled Darcy’s hair. “You’re beautiful.”

Happiness surged through Elizabeth’s body like electricity. This moment was as close to perfection as she had ever known.

1943. World War II has torn the continent since 1939 and tested families, the Bennets included. Elizabeth and Jane nurse wounded soldiers and civilians in a London hospital. The other sisters volunteer as best suits their inclinations. Mr. Bennet rattles about Longbourn. Wickham sniffs about the edges of the estate—and the Bennet daughters.

Even the ever-present threat of death from the skies cannot prepare Jane and Lizzy for the most devastating news. The words one never wishes to hear are delivered by two officers, each scarred by years on the front lines. In the dark days that follow, devotion is tested, and affection blooms.

Kiss Me Good Night, Major Darcy drops Jane Austen’s timeless characters into the midst of the most horrific conflict in human history. Their trail twists and encounters those who would turn sacrifice to their profit. Follow the women of Longbourn as they navigate the rocks and shoals of wartime Great Britain to endure misunderstandings and discover lasting love.

What do you think? You may have read this blurb before but we are getting so much more today from Georgina! Muchas gracias, Georgina.

Georgina lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Jon, who is an artist and professor of Media Arts. In 2015, they moved from New York City, where they lived for eighteen years, to Portland Oregon. Their son, a professional musician and sound engineer, still lives in Brooklyn. Georgina is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and was a stage actress for many years. Born and raised in the Southwest, she went to school in New York, graduating from New York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater. She’s also a language professor and, of course, a writer, recently graduating from Portland State University with a master’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature. In 2022 she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to identify and connect with emerging female writers in Mexico and support them to free their literary voices.

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Blog: Nerd Girls, Romantics, and Time Travelers

Enjoy the diary entry and the excerpt that Georgina is sharing with us 🙂

Hi Ana, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog! For this post, I’m sharing a diary entry by Mary. It’s not in the book, but it’s what I imagine Mary might write about at the point in the story in which the excerpt takes place. Just so the readers know, the excerpt that follows the diary entry is taken from quite early in the book, before Lizzy has caught on to what a cad Wickham is. Don’t despair, readers, she comes to her senses soon enough! In the meantime, let’s see what’s on Mary’s mind.

Dear Diary,

Joining up with the Women’s Land Army is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I was such a homebody before, such a bookworm. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I will never give up my beloved books and my scripture study, but now I’ve found a whole other purpose in life: being outdoors in the fresh air and reveling in God’s beautiful creation. Not only that, but I’m doing my part for the war effort by tending the fields while the farmers are on the front lines. You know what they say, “Dig for Victory!” I’ve come to feel so strong, so purposeful. I feel there’s nothing I couldn’t tackle now, nothing I couldn’t undertake. What on earth will I do when the war is over? I shouldn’t say that. There is nothing I could want more than for this terrible war to end, but then what? Go back to being meek little Mary, staying at home and hoping beyond hope that a husband might come along for me one day? I don’t have the stomach to work as a nurse or hospital volunteer as my sisters do, but maybe I can become a secretary. Or a school teacher. No, that doesn’t suit. I must do something that aids mankind. Something that contributes to the greater good like I’m doing now. And as for a husband, surely I’ll only meet a worthy candidate if I’m out in the world, serving, and striving, and working for the greater good. No, no more thoughts of husbands. Heaven forbid I sound like Lydia! For now, I must go to sleep for I’ll be up with the sun. Oh, the glory of each new day and all it brings!

Love,

Mary

Excerpt:

Lizzy wondered: What could Papa’s motives be for wanting Wickham to walk out alone with me? Lizzy looked at her father and squinted, but he innocently smiled back at her. Did he think George Wickham was a good match?

“Very well, then,” Wickham said enthusiastically, “let’s be off.”

Lizzy grabbed her hat, and they ventured out into the sunshine.

Before long, Wickham spoke. “I heard it was Major Fitzwilliam Darcy who delivered the news to Miss Bennet about Captain Duncan’s death.”

“He and Captain Bingley. They were wounded in the same grenade explosion that killed Robert.”

“Yes, I did hear something to that effect. I heard Darcy’s eye was injured, and Bingley’s arm.”

“You ‘hear’ a lot of things,” Lizzy teased. “Where do you get your information?”

“Oh…well, I don’t know how much you know about my relationship with the Darcy family, but it goes way back.”

Lizzy was surprised. “I know nothing. Family friends, then?”

“Used to be. Used to be quite great friends. I was practically raised by the Darcy family.”

“Really?”

“Yes, my father was Pemberley’s steward when old Mr. Darcy was still alive. I don’t mind telling you, I was quite the favorite of old Mr. Darcy’s. I dare say Fitz was rather jealous.”

What can I say to this? she wondered.

George Wickham went on. “Mr. Darcy made sure I had as good an education as Fitz. I should have been accepted into the Officer’s Academy, but I was not.”

“I don’t understand. What happened?”

“I can’t say for sure. But it was the same year that Fitz and his good pal Bingley were accepted. I always had the feeling Fitz pulled some strings and blackballed me. I can’t prove it, but I wouldn’t doubt it. He ruined my chances simply out of resentment.”

“That’s astonishing! I can’t believe he would do such a thing. Not that I know him well at all. It’s just so…ungentlemanly.”

“Humph, don’t let him fool you. He’s not the ‘gentleman’ he makes everyone think he is. It takes more than money to make one a gentleman, don’t you think, Elizabeth?”

“Of course.” If Private Wickham was correct about Major Darcy, the man was a vindictive bounder!

Wickham continued. “In fact, I find it a little suspicious that Darcy and Bingley were sent home from Italy with such relatively minor injuries.”

“Are they minor?”

“Compared to others who are not treated with such deference. I suspect Darcy’s cousin—Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam—had something to do with it.”

“A colonel!”

“Yes, with a lot of influence. He’s the second son of an earl, and you know how those birds feather each other’s nests. I think he pulled strings to get his cousin, and his cousin’s best friend, out of harm’s way.”

“I can’t imagine either Major Darcy or Captain Bingley would agree to that.”

“I’m sure they wouldn’t have had a say in the matter.”

Lizzy pondered this for a moment.

“I have no beef with Charlie Bingley, you understand. He’s not a bad chap. We were friends until Darcy turned him against me. I’m still friends with his sister, Caroline. We correspond now and then. It’s through her that I know what I know about Fitz and Charles.”

“Charles said Caroline and Georgiana, Major Darcy’s sister, are friends as well.”

“Ah, Georgiana…a sweet kid, but kind of a pain in the neck if you ask me.”

“Really?” Lizzy said with a laugh.

“Yes, she always had a crush on me. A schoolgirl thing, nothing more,” he added quickly.

Lizzy nodded. Who would not be charmed by the handsome and friendly George Wickham? “The farm where Mary works is just up ahead here.”

“What beautiful countryside!” he exclaimed.

“I agree. Mary works some days here since Mr. Tidwell’s eldest son was called up and others on neighboring farms including Papa’s.”

Private Wickham nodded with interest.

Up ahead were Tidwell’s fields, dotted with women bent to their work. A tractor lumbered across a newly plowed area. The woman operating it waved at them. It was Mary!

Lizzy ran toward her with Wickham close behind.

Lizzy called out to her. “Mary! What are you doing?”

“I just learned to drive it!” Mary replied, yelling across the intervening distance. Some of the women scattered to get out of her way as she veered in their direction. “Sorry! Sorry!” Mary called to them.

“Oh goodness, I’m not sure it was a good idea to let Mary operate that monster,” Lizzy said to Wickham. The gears loudly complained, and the tractor came to an abrupt stop. Lizzy and Wickham edged nearer as if it were an unbroken horse waiting to lash out.

“I’m still getting used to it,” Mary said with a grin.

“I can see that,” said Lizzy.

Wickham chimed in, “I’m impressed! A lady driving a tractor! What’s next?”

Mary responded with importance, “Women have been doing this kind of heavy farm work for years. Where we’re needed, there we are.”

Wickham’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “Are you a suffragette?”

“Goodness, that’s an old-fashioned word, Private Wickham,” said Mary, who had also met him last Christmas. “We’ve had the same voting rights as men for more than ten years, now!”

“Yes, I know,” he said. “And I’m sure you’re exercising it.”

“I’m not old enough, but I will. You can count on it.

“Well, Mary, we don’t want to interrupt your work, but do be careful,” Lizzy admonished.

“Don’t worry about me,” Mary said, starting the tractor motor up again with a roar. “I can handle this thing.”

The tractor jolted forward, and Lizzy jumped backward.

Mary drove off across the field, now empty as her fellow workers had found safer employment elsewhere on the farm.

It is not the first time I read a Pride and Prejudice variation set during the WW2 but fortunately authors have amazing minds and there can be so many things happening. Georgina Young-Ellis is not an exception and I have enjoyed reading Kiss Me Goodnight, Major Darcy.

Darcy and Bingley have to take some news to a Bennet member and they meet there, in the worst circumstances. However, first impressions are always happening and Elizabeth is not indifferent.

They meet occasionally and one of those times is a ball, however, as usual, Wichkam has to be around. He met the Bennets a few months ago and he, as the blurb says, sniffs around a lot. He is very annoying and, as we know, a cad. I liked the first encounter between Wickham and Darcy in this book, even if Darcy thinks it is a rendez-vous between the Bennet sisters and him.

I have enjoyed their encounters and, as per cannon, Elizabeth believes Wickham and tries to find only bad things on Darcy. However, she may not be indifferent to him… (obviously 😀 ) By the way, what would be the insult from Darcy?

Characters which have surprised me positively: Mary, you have already read a lot on her diary and the excerpt that Georgina has shared, but she is pretty great. Charlotte, Elizabeth’s friend, who is so helpful to some of those in need and does anything she can. Anne de Bourgh, she grows a backbone and she is a great asset to people.

You may ask yourself about the title and I will not say anything apart from that is said at the end of the book, everything that surrounds that moment is awesome: where they are, why they are there, who they are with. Lovely moments!

Thank you for reading this post. I highly recommend you to check the previous posts to get to know more about Kiss Me Goodnight, Major Darcy.

What about buying the book? You can do it here:

Amazon US Amazon CA Amazon UK Amazon DE Amazon ES

During this blog tour, Meryton Press is giving away six ebook copies of Kiss Me Goodnight, Major Darcy. To participate click the link below and follow instructions.

Rafflecopter – Kiss Me Goodnight, Major Darcy

“Bloomsbury Girls” by Natalie Jenner, review of the audiobook

BOOK TRAILER

I recommend you to click on the link above this, you will see the book trailer of Bloomsbury Girls. It gives a peak of this lovely book.

In case you cannot watch it now, you have next the description of the book with the girls from Bloomsbury 🙂

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances–most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time–Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others–these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, The Jane Austen Society was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

As you may have read on the title of the post, I am review this book but I have listen to it. I am not going to tell you much just yet. First, we have some words from the author about Bloomsbury Girls, both the story and the audiobook.

Dear readers,

I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). BloomsburyGirls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in BloomsburyGirls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it.

Warmest regards,

Natalie

SOME ADVANCE PRAISE

“In a London still reeling from the ravages of World War II and the changes war has brought to English society, three young women take their futures into their own hands. With Bloomsbury Girls, Natalie Jenner has penned a timely and beautiful ode to ambition, friendship, bookshops, and the written word.” —Janet Skeslien CharlesNew York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library

“In post-war London, Bloomsbury Books survived The Blitz until Vivien Lowry, Grace Perkins, and Evie Stone set off their own bomb on the stuffy all-male management. What ensues is the most delightful, witty, and endearing story you will read this year. Natalie Jenner, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, proves that she was not a one hit wonder. Like Austen, her second book is even better than the first.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It 

Would you like to buy the book or the audio book? Here are some links you could use.

PRINT & DIGITAL BOOK

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY |

BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

AUDIOBOOK

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

As the advanced praise says, three women who want to have their future on their own hands. However, it is not easy until you are decided. These ladies are very different from each other both in personality and how their life has gone so far. However, they have their dreams and getting to know each other (for several years or barely a couple of months) is the trigger to a better chapter in their life.

The men in the book are also extremely different and some have their own dreams or their own frustrations (Alec 😉 ) However, they are secondary but play an important role as they are the ones that, intentionally or unintentionally, could stop these ladies from dreaming and having those dreams come true. However, I am sure that they would have done it because even if these three ladies are our main protagonists, also knowing the ladies mentioned on the description opens a huge world of possibilities to Evie, Grace and Vivien. These ladies are and have been independent even when married (money may help but it is not the only thing needed), and for instance, Vivien likes what she is learning from them.

I am not going to get into the romantic sides of Bloomsbury Girls but I have to say that I have enjoyed the different relationships and how they… ended?

Moreover, I like the descriptions of the society at the time and the different descriptions of places in London, and the daily life of these characters flows easily while listening to Juliet Stevenson.

“The Barrister’s Bride” by Suzan Lauder, flower post + giveaway

Hello to all,

What do you think about the title? Before I read anything about this book, I knew it was a Pride and Prejudice variation and then my mind raced with questions: who is the barrister? Is Elizabeth engaged to a barrister? What happens with Darcy then? As you can read shortly on the blurb, my mind was not really very close to the plot… (which was good!)

A pact that will change their lives forever…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a successful young barrister with a bright future. His late uncle has guided his career, made him his heir, and even selected a bride for him—sight unseen—whom he’ll meet and marry upon her majority. Who could have predicted that making the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet in Meryton would throw those careful plans into disarray?

Elizabeth Bennet doesn’t know what to make of “Fitz” Darcy, who intrigues and draws her notice like no other. Despite Fitzwilliam’s warnings, she allows Mr. George Darcy, Fitzwilliam’s older brother and master of Pemberley, to charm her. Little does she know that she, too, has been promised in marriage by her late father—to an unknown barrister, no less. What is she to do when her hopes to marry for love disappear in the blink of an eye?

Is George Darcy’s suit in earnest? Can this mysterious bridegroom of her father’s choosing become the husband of her dreams? With the danger of duels and deceit, what will come of the initial attraction between her and Fitzwilliam? Will she become the barrister’s bride?

Note: contains scenes with adult content.

How cool is that? Two arranged marriages? I hope not!! Let me be mean… will Fitzwilliam eventually inherit??

I am glad to (re)introduce you to Suzan Lauder. I highly recommend her books!

A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, yoga, fitness, home renovation, design, sustainability, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder keeps busy even when she’s not writing novels based on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, all of which are published by Meryton Press.

She and Mr. Suze and their rescue tabby split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a 150-year-old Spanish colonial casita in Mexico. Suzan’s lively prose can be found on her Facebook author page; on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest; and on her Meryton Press blog, road trips with the redhead.

Suzan is bringing a lovely to post to let us discover more things about The Barrister’s Bride. I do not know a lot about the meaning of flowers but the little I know, I really enjoy it. I hope you enjoy what she teaches us too.

Ana is a favourite blogger of mine because she can write a review so close to giving spoilers, yet never giving them. So, this post from The Barrister’s Bride for “My Vices and Weaknesses” is a special one.

~~~

During the final scene of The Barrister’s Bride, Elizabeth places flowers on several graves near Pemberley. The dictionaries for the language of flowers (floriography) weren’t out yet in the Regency (the first was 1825), and the flowers I used in that scene depicted floriography that came from various sources on the internet, including Victorian lists.

I had some difficulty choosing the flowers. Several of my first choices (begonias, sweet peas) were unavailable in the UK the Regency. Most flowers on the floriography lists are for romantic love, and none of my flowers were required for more than friendship. The flowers that were listed for friendship themes tended to be spring flowers, and the scene took place in early autumn. Sometimes different web pages had different language for some flowers, even the so-called Victorian original listings, so one site would say a flower was friendship and another would say the same flower was disdain.

I had to choose my own from one site and stick with it, ensuring the flowers were indeed Regency. However, none of this is spelled out in the novel, so I thought readers might like to know what I was thinking in regard to floriography in The Barrister’s Bride.

Yellow and white rose bouquets went onto Fitzwilliam Darcy’s parents’ graves: Yellow roses are for friendship and joy, and white roses are for purity.

Amaranth (cockscomb) was set on George Darcy’s grave and is for foppery and affectation. I’m certain Elizabeth could have chosen a flower such as lavender (distrust), but she was being generous.

The multicoloured bouquet for Uncle David Darcy was to celebrate his gay life, which is not a Regency, but a modern theme. Marguerites (a certain type of daisy) are for purity, innocence, and loyalty. Lemon blossoms are for fidelity.

Elizabeth scattered pink rose petals to the wind hoping some would get to her father’s grave in Longbourn. Pink roses are for admiration, lesser than a romantic love.

Though not in the book, she would likely have dressed each bouquet with a little rosemary for remembrance.

Sprig of fresh rosemary

~~~

What do you think? Did you like the descriptions? I am intrigued to know more about these characters too and how many more flowers we read about in the book. Yes, I know, it may not be the most relevant thing in my mind when I read it, but I would definitely appreciate them.

Want to buy the book? You can check on the following links:

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Please do check the blog tour, so far I am enjoying it a lot and I recommend you to check it.

May   9 My Jane Austen Book Club

May 10  Babblings of a Bookworm

May 11 The Literary Assistant

May 12 My Vices and Weaknesses

May 13 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

May 16 Austenesque Reviews

May 17 From Pemberley to Milton

Meryton Press is giving away six eBooks of The Barrister’s Bride by Suzan Lauder.

There is a swag giveaway by Author, Suzan Lauder, and it includes a personalized signed copy of the book, a Suzan Lauder reticule, an embroidered handkerchief, and a fan. Both giveaways are in the Rafflecopter. The link is below, click on it and follow instructions. Good luck!

Rafflecopter – The Barrister’s Bride

“Born to be a Heroine” by Christine Combe, excerpt

Dear all,

I am very happy to have once more Christine Combe as a guest. She is going to introduce us to her latest book Born to be a Heroine and I am already like it as we have more than the Pride and Prejudice characters , that I love, but I like mixing with other characters by Jane Austen. I think you may not be overly surprise of the prologue once you read what book’s characters appear. However, what a turn of luck for somebody! I already want to know if this person will end up with the same person as in Jane Austen’s book. Perhaps we will not get so much in this story, we have just to read Born to be a Heroine then!

Hello everyone! I am so very excited to be returning to My Vices and Weaknesses to talk about my latest Austen variation, Born to be a Heroine! Though the title may bring to mind the opening of Northanger Abbey, this is another Pride and Prejudice reimagining — but with Northanger characters thrown in!

Hope that little blurb intrigues you! Now here is a sneaky-peek at the story prologue:

Mr. Allen of Fullerton, Wiltshire was in Bath with his wife and her young companion for the improvement of his gouty constitution when he very unexpectedly suffered a severe and ultimately fatal apoplexy.

His demise tore Mrs. Allen and young Catherine Morland from their revels in a city ironically known for its healing waters as well as its social scene. The elder of the ladies was too caught up in the grief born of her loss to care, and the younger only the smallest fraction vexed to be taken away so soon from friends newly made there. Thankfully, the better of them—Mr. Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor—were greatly understanding of Catherine’s duty to Mrs. Allen, as well as that of her brother, James, who was in Bath also. Not so understanding were John and Isabella Thorpe, who thought that the Morlands not being related to the Allens meant there was no reason they should quit Bath before their planned departure another six weeks hence, but when even James remained firm in his desire to accompany the grieving Mrs. Allen and his sister back home, they relented in their persistent begging that the two remain.

The Thorpes’ disappointment in losing their companions was assuaged by the belief that Mr. Allen, who was very wealthy, would leave some legacy to both James and Catherine. That they were likely to be enriched by their generous neighbor appealed to John and Isabella, whose family had not been fortunate enough to achieve either richness or social status—both of which were greatly desired by the pair. That the two deceived themselves as to the prospects of their friends was entirely unknown to both Catherine and James.

In due time, Mr. Allen was laid to rest, and his attorney was soon after at the door of Fullerton Manor to discuss matters of business with his client’s widow. Miss Morland, who had called on the lady every day and spent hours with her just listening to her talk of her husband and all their years together, was rather surprised when—having given Mrs. Allen and Mr. Jenkins privacy to talk—she was later summoned to the study to join them. After being offered a cup of tea by Mrs. Allen, which was politely declined, Catherine was eagerly perched on the edge of the damask sofa to hear what the kind older lady had to say.

“My dearest Catherine,” Mrs. Allen began tearfully—the poor woman was always on the verge of sobbing of late—“I have asked you here to tell you, in person, what I think we ought to have done some time ago. Though Mr. Allen had no idea of this necessity coming so soon, I am sure we would have done either while we were in Bath or soon after our return to Fullerton.”

“What have you to tell me, Mrs. Allen?” Catherine asked, glancing confusedly between her hostess and the attorney.

Mrs. Allen reached for her hand. “Well, you know—of course—that Mr. Allen and I had no children. And I should very much have liked to at least have had a daughter, especially if she were as delightful a creature as you are.”

Catherine blushed and looked down at where their hands were joined between them on the sofa. “Mrs. Allen, you are too kind.”

“It is true!” cried Mrs. Allen with a squeeze of her hand and more animation than she had shown in all the days since her husband had died. “You are the best of girls to have gone with an old woman like me to Bath, and to do so much looking after me after Mr. Allen…”

Mrs. Allen paused and sniffled, and raised her ever-present handkerchief to her eyes and nose before she drew a breath and said, “In any case, my dear, having no children left my dear husband and me in quite the pickle as to whom to leave our worldly wealth and goods to when it was time to meet our Lord. Mr. Allen has a few nieces and nephews to whom it could all have been left, and he has been kind in leaving them each a small legacy, but the bulk of it has been endowed to another.”

Catherine now took on an expression and feeling of alarm. “Oh, Mrs. Allen, do not tell me Mr. Allen was so thoughtless as to leave you homeless! Surely he would not do such a thing—he loved you so much!”

“Oh!” cried the lady. “Oh no, my dear! Mr. Allen was very generous indeed—I am to have my marriage portion in its entirety, for one thing, and could live very comfortably indeed off the interest. As for a home, I am to have lifetime residency right here in the house I shared with my dear husband. But as to the rest of his fortune, my dear… Well, your having joined us in Bath played a part in deciding to whom the rest of it should go.”

A frown now furrowed Catherine’s brow. “I… I do not understand. How did our holiday help Mr. Allen decide who to leave his fortune to?”

Now Mrs. Allen chuckled. “Oh my dear girl, how can you not understand? Let me put it to you this way… Do you recall that day Mr. Allen said he was to leave Bath and would not return until very late in the evening?”

Catherine nodded slowly. “I do. He said he had some business to see to, did he not?” she said.

Mrs. Allen nodded, then gestured toward Mr. Jenkins as she said, “It was to Mr. Jenkins here that he went. Mr. Allen had decided, and I assure you I agreed wholeheartedly, that you should be his heir.”

Near a minute passed in which Catherine stared gaping at Mrs. Allen in stunned disbelief. At long last, she began to shake her head.

“No! Oh no, Mrs. Allen, this cannot be true!” Catherine cried. “Why should Mr. Allen leave his fortune to me? I am no relation to him!”

She pushed to her feet and paced away, wringing her hands as she said, “But surely I cannot really be Mr. Allen’s heir. It cannot be possible!”

Mr. Jenkins—who had heretofore remained silent—softly cleared his throat then and said, “Miss Morland, a gentleman whose estate is not legally constrained to be disposed of otherwise, such as by entailment, can dispense of it in any manner he chooses. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for a childless wealthy couple like Mr. and Mrs. Allen to adopt the child of a relative or close family friend and name him or her as heir to the estate.”

“And your parents,” said Mrs. Allen quickly, “have truly been the best of friends to Mr. Allen and me. We spoke to your mother and father about the matter before going to Bath. They were, admittedly, as much surprised by our consideration as are you. Well, before our holiday it was really but a thought which we had discussed with dear Reverend and Mrs. Morland, but as I said before, our time in Bath secured Mr. Allen’s opinion. My own was decided long ago.”

Catherine blinked rapidly. “But… But why me? Why not James, or one of my other brothers and sisters?”

“Because you are special to me,” said Mrs. Allen. “Dearest Catherine, while it is true that Mr. Allen and I have watched all your brothers and sisters grow from infancy, your particular kindness to me over the years has made me think of you almost as the daughter I never had.”

“Oh, Mrs. Allen, I…” For a moment, Catherine was suddenly too overcome to continue speaking. “I am so deeply flattered by such a sentiment. But are you truly certain you wish to do this?”

Mrs. Allen smiled. “My dear, it is already done. Mr. Allen’s fortune is to be yours outright, while this house and all its contents—save for those things decreed in Mr. Allen’s will to be given to his remaining family—shall be yours in their entirety upon my passing. You may even come and live here with me if it is your desire—and though I have no wish to unduly influence you, my dear, I’ll not hesitate to say that I should like it very much if you did.”

Feeling quite unable to maintain her composure while standing—and secretly afraid of swooning, which she had never before done—Catherine returned to the sofa and sat again. “So basically… I am now an heiress?”

Both Mrs. Allen and Mr. Jenkins nodded. Catherine drew a breath and tried to wrap her mind around the concept of having a fortune, then realized she had no idea just how much of a fortune she had gained.

“Is… is it indelicate of me to ask the amount of fortune I have been given?” she asked tentatively.

After sharing another glance with Mrs. Allen, Mr. Jenkins cleared his throat again. “Miss Morland, you are now the mistress of a fortune the interest of which is five thousand pounds per annum.”

Immediately after this declaration, for the first time in her life, Catherine Morland swooned.

***

What an opening! Looks like John Thorpe was right after all—the idea I had before writing was just me wondering what if he’d been right and Mr. Allen did make Catherine his heir? What does this have to do with our dear Darcy and Lizzy? Well, you have to keep following along on the tour — or go pick up a copy of the book — to find out!

Born to be a Heroine is available in ebook, paperback, and hardcover from Amazon!

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***

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen’s work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.

Links to follow her:

Blog: All That They Desire / Facebook: (1) Christine Combe | Facebook

“The Murder of Mr. Wickham” by Claudia Gray, review

A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen’s Mr. Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang. 

How do you like a mystery? If you like one or you want to try this genre, you have here a mystery with a lot of Jane Austen’s characters.

If you like Clue, you will like The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray. You may suspect almost everyone in the house!

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I am glad to introduce you to Claudia Gray, you may know her thanks to her writing that varies from science fiction to this book where Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie (Austenprose).

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs. 

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

What do you think of the blurb? How come the two youngsters of this house party play detective? Well, justice is the answer but I am not going to say what that means. Yes, Jonathan Darcy is “worst” than his father when he was younger. However, it is great to get to read his thoughts, as the thoughts of many other characters.

I have liked how the story and the discoveries have gone, however, the magistrate was quite lacking on discernment. To be honest, in the book, his role has been described as more of a on paper job as there was not need to do much until this event, but it was still lacking. You may be surprised to know who he is.

The couples (the Darcys, the Brandons, the Knightleys, the Bertrams and the Wentworths) all have their own problems before the murder, however, these problems may be accentuated after the murder. These issues are very different from couple to couple.

The epilogue is something that I have enjoyed, I would have just hoped to have a bit more about some people… two of them specifically and know what more happened to them.

“Maria Bertram’s Daughter” by Lucy Knight, excerpt + giveaway

Dear all,

I am very glad to present you Lucy Knight’s Maria Bertram’s Daughter. Apologies for not having posted yesterday but we had some problems that prevented me from being near my computer or having any time. However, here we are and I am looking forward to know what you think about this book.

I was pretty curious about it as we have here a protagonist that is not on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Moreover, I am not a fan of Maria Bertram but I think I am going to like Dorothea. We will see how she lives her life despite all her struggles and “family”. I do not want to tell you more, let’s have a look at the blurb.

She could be mistress of Mansfield Park. But is that what she wants?

An unwanted child—conceived in circumstances her mother would rather forget—Dorothea Henrietta Rose grows up solitary and neglected with her dissatisfied mother and unpleasant great-aunt Norris. Raised without the knowledge that her mother is her mother or that their occasional visitor, Sir Thomas Bertram, is her grandfather, she is forbidden ever to set foot in Mansfield Park.

Dorothea hopes for a happier life when sent away to school, but her difficulties are not over. She is obliged to make her way in the world as a governess and, thus, encounters human frailty, hypocrisy, good, and evil in her travels throughout England.

She meets the Crawfords—Henry and Mary (now Lady Drumroth)—and inevitably does the one thing she must not do: unwillingly makes herself known to the inhabitants of Mansfield Park.

I am pretty angry with Maria. I understand that she was a child born out of wedlock (I love this word) and all this that entails… but even her mother basically ignores her. However, her grandfather visits sometimes! Nothing else it seems.

I cannot wait to read about the encounter with the Crawfords and her life before that too. I actually want to meet Dorothea and see what happens to her.

By the way, have you seen the cover? I really like how Dorothea could look like. I normally have Victoria Hamilton as Maria Bertram, so I think there is something there.

Lucy Knight grew up in Whitby, North Yorkshire, now a tourist town but until recently a small and historic port which was known for shipbuilding, fishing (including whaling) and having an important Abbey. During her life she has moved around a great deal both in England and on the continent of Europe; she now lives in a tiny hamlet lost in the French countryside with two rescue dogs, two rescue chickens, an unknown number of bees and eight sheep.

Lucy has two children and three grandchildren, all of whom live in England.

Lucy has only recently begun to write historical fiction but she enjoys it so much she can’t stop! Her background is in comedy and drama, so there will always be some jokes and plenty of dialogue.

When she is not writing, Lucy teaches English and French, and she loves to take long walks with her dogs during which she revels in the birds, butterflies, trees and flowers which are so abundant in her part of France.

I am really glad to have a languages teacher in the blog, we share the same profession and I am pretty sure that we could see Dorothea teaching French for instance 🙂

You can follow her on:

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The excerpt that Lucy is sharing with us may not show a lot of Dorothea, however, Lucy shows us a very important topic that was not “appropriate” as women were not supposed to be independent. I like the idea of talking about these women. Enjoy!

Thank you, Ana, for hosting me on my blog tour! I have an exclusive excerpt for your readers. I introduced a couple of “wise women” (or “witches”) to my narrative, partly because I take a great interest in herbal medicine – and have ancestresses who did the same – and partly because I wanted to introduce some older women who were making their own way in the world, independent of men. One of the themes of the book is of women striving to be independent in a man’s world.

Here, Dorothea’s great friend is very unwell, and Dorothea has suggested that a wise woman might be able to help – but how to get such a person into a parsonage without being seen by the parishioners, who might be scandalised? Under the cover of darkness, of course…

“It was three days before the “witch” could be fetched. A fall of snow made the roads almost impassable for a time. On the third day, just after nightfall, a small round figure bundled in a cloak hurried into the vicarage, and Edward was grateful that his house was hidden from most of the village.

Dorothea waited in the hall, eager to usher the small person up to the bedroom with no loss of time. The cloak was pushed back, and Dorothea’s eyes met a pair of small blue ones in a round, pink face.

“Mrs Dowson,” said the owner of the bright complexion.

“I beg your pardon,” Dorothea said, “I am Miss Rose. It is my friend who is unwell.”

“Before I see her,” said Mrs Dowson with great firmness, “I need to know everything that has happened. How came she to fall ill?”

Dorothea, despite her impatience, suffered the visitor to be divested of her cloak and took her into the drawing room to recount Anne’s history.

She began with Anne’s difficult confinement and her apparent full recovery, but Mrs Dowson insisted upon going further back in time.

“Her childhood?”

Dorothea told of school, the privations they had suffered there. She did not know about Anne’s early childhood.

“Was she ever unwell at school?” Mrs Dowson had an almost educated voice, Dorothea thought. She felt great curiosity about this determined little woman, but now was not the time.

“No indeed. She was always considered delicate, but I think that was more from her appearance than from any actual frailty of body.”

Mrs Dowson looked thoughtful. “And she is an orphan, you say? Sent away to school? And what, pray, were the recent events that led to this insensibility?”

Dorothea told of the shock Anne had when a man came to the house enquiring after her.

“Had she cause to be concerned for your safety?”

“Yes,” answered Dorothea without elaborating.

“Very well,” said Mrs Dowson, standing up. “I am persuaded that this is not a disease of the body but of the mind. I have with me all that will be necessary except some hot water and, perhaps, a cup of tea?”

“Of course,” said Dorothea, blushing slightly and ringing the bell. “I should have thought of it earlier. I am so anxious about my friend that all my civilities have been laid aside. I do apologise.”

“I understand. Let us proceed upstairs.”

The maid having been informed of Mrs Dowson’s modest requirements, Dorothea led the way.

Edward stood as they entered the room. He had been kneeling beside the bed, praying, Dorothea observed. He nodded briefly to Mrs Dowson and hurried away.

Mrs Dowson sat on the side of the bed and took Anne’s hand. The patient lay inert under the white sheets and rose-sprigged counterpane; she made no movement or sign.

“She takes some food, I imagine?” said Mrs Dowson.

“Yes,” Dorothea replied. “We sit her up on the pillows and use a spoon or a cup. She is taking more than formerly though it seems still sadly insufficient.”

“It is certainly a disorder of the mind. I believe it is a deep melancholy. Women often suffer a form of this after their confinement. I have seen it often. I daresay the doctors will have tried vomiting, bleeding, and perhaps mercury. All very dangerous and unhelpful in this case. She needs music, laughter, and a tincture of setwall, horehound, and hawthorn. Setwall is a flower sometimes called valerian. I use the root,” she explained, as Dorothea looked puzzled. The remedy will not take effect immediately. We must allow ten days with no change; then, if she is not beginning to recover, you may send for me again to eat my bonnet!”

Dorothea could not help laughing despite her anxiety.

“There—laughter,” said Mrs Dowson, beaming. “Continue to feed her as before. Why does she not have her baby here?” she added, looking round the room.

“The nurse brings baby in once a day. Edward does not want too much excitement.”

“Excitement is exactly what she needs. Baby’s crib should be in here—perhaps to be taken out of the room if he cries excessively but not otherwise. Laughter, music, and gaiety are essential. Flowers!” she exclaimed.  […]

“But how shall we bring music into the room?”

“Sing, my dear! Sing to baby, sing to her, sing all the songs you know. Ten days. I shall not take a fee until she is cured. Now, I must hurry away to be home before it is time to retire to bed.” She finished her tea, and she was shown out of the house, bundled up as before lest any delicate-minded parishioners should spy a weaver of spells leaving the vicarage.”

What do you think? I really like the advise to get Anne recovered. I am interested in knowing if we have more wise women around in the book and how Dorothea plays a role in having them there.

Very interesting stops on this blog. I have to admit that I am still catching up but the first couple of stops show really good things to discover about Lucy Knight’s Maria Bertram’s Daughter. I hope you like them too!

April 11 My Jane Austen Book Club

April 12 So little time…

April 13 Babblings of a Bookworm

April 14 From Pemberley to Milton

April 15 Austenesque Reviews

April 16 The Literary Assistant

April 18 My Vices and Weaknesses

You can buy this book on:

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Meryton Press is giving away 6 eBooks of Maria Bertram’s Daughter by Lucy Knight. You only need to click on the link below and follow instructions!

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Mini-review of “The Arranged Marriage” by Gillian Hawser

A story of courage and independence, The Arranged Marriage focuses on Perpetua Mordaunt, the diffident, shy and plain daughter of the Duke of Staplefield. 

It is the duty of all daughters to marry, but even knowing this Perpetua is horrified when she is forced by her father and narcissistic mother into a marriage with a man she hardly knows to save the family fortune and reputation. Trapped, unable to get her confident and beautiful siblings to understand her distress, the only option that appears open to her is to become a governess so after the last words fade from the ceremony, she runs away to Bath. 

Here she is directed to The Registry where she hopes to obtain a position. Rejected, desperate, she is rescued by a Mrs Lumley and her beloved daughter, Dora, who wishes for Dora to obtain some town polish. Petty blossoms under the adoring society – but when she sees her husband at a party, she realises not all problems can be run away from.

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Nice reading although with the premise that she runs away after marrying which sounds a bit strange. However, this gives room for some of the things that happen once she encounters her husband and mainly that first conversation/argument once they meet again.

Perpetua, Petty, actually finds positions that are pretty different but in the second one she sticks to what she feels is right, to protect that girl despite of being quite selfish and because of that girl there is the last and main event that could be called an adventure if it would not be something bad.

I did not really enjoy all the descriptions of all the women mentioned to be super beautiful, one more than the previous one. It seemed quite annoying to read that several times.

3.5-4 stars

“The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy” by Don Jacobson, excerpt + giveaway

I am very glad that today I have one more of Don Jacobson’s books, and specially, the last novel of The Bennet Wardrobe Series: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy.

I have only read two of the novels in the series (shame on me 😉 ) but they are so good. I really want to read them all and following the order recommended by Don:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey

Henry Fitzwilliam’s War

The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque

Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament

The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy

So, fortunately because we have one more, but unfortunately because it is the last one, today we are enjoying The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy.

“You must throw away notions of what you want.
Only then will you be free to accept what you need.”

—The Brown Guide to
Fitzwilliam Darcy, 1840

Long has the amazing Bennet Wardrobe involved itself in the affairs of Longbourn. Where before its actions have been cloaked in mystery, its purpose now becomes clear. The fey cabinet has molded the universes to strike a balance that can be achieved only by saving the greatest love story ever told.

Follow the paths taken by Pemberley’s master and mistress after their children are grown. See Elizabeth Darcy struggle to rekindle the love glow that has dimmed after a quarter century. Grasp the unaccountable pain her departure levels upon the entire Derbyshire family. Watch Fitzwilliam Darcy learn that which he must in order to become the best version of himself: worthy of his Elizabeth.

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy closes out the Bennet Wardrobe series.  The disparate threads spun by the remarkable women born to a Hertfordshire couple of insignificant fortune are woven together. These lives have become the tapestry that records the destiny of Jane Austen’s lovers, immortal in any here/now or where/when.

I do not know you but I cannot wait to read it because knowing that Elizabeth and Darcy may have struggles, like every other couple, is a bit heartbreaking (I know they are fictional characters!). However, what I really want to read is what both do and how they behave to “solve” this issue.

Here is what Lory Lilian, one of the leading authors of Austenesque fiction, has to say about the Wardrobe story arc.

As an author myself, I admit I would never be capable to craft such a complex, enchanting, and exciting story, not to mention an entire series! Congratulations to Don for a masterful work! I highly recommend The Bennet Wardrobe series to all readers, not only those who love Pride and Prejudice, but anyone who enjoys time travel, mystery, originality, and history.

I would like to (re)introduce you to the brain, soul and imagination behind this awesome series:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years, from news and features to advertising, television, and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all nonfiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Since then, Meryton Press has re-edited and republished Keeper and the subsequent six volumes in the series. The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy is the eighth and concluding volume. Other Meryton Press books by Jacobson include Lessers and Betters, In Plain Sight, and The Longbourn Quarantine. All his works are also available as audiobooks (Audible).

Don Jacobson

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in history with a specialty in American foreign relations. As a college instructor, he taught United States history, world history, the history of western civilization, and research writing. He is currently in his third career as an author and is a member of JASNA and the Regency Fiction Writers.

Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the Austenesque world, Jacobson also enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine, and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling. Most days will find him “putting in the miles.” He has ridden several “centuries” (hundred-mile days). He is especially proud of having completed the AIDS Ride–Midwest (five hundred miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-a-Wish Miracle Ride (three hundred miles from Traverse City to Brooklyn, both in Michigan).

When not traveling, Jacobson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and co-author, Pam—a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize.

You can follow him and contact him on:

Amazon Author’s Page  Goodreads Site Austenesque Thoughts newsletter

Author Website Twitter 

Don Jacobson is sharing with us a excerpt, that, I am pretty sure, would make you wish to read The Grail and all the previous books. I really hope you enjoy it and you end up wanting to read much more! Thank you Don for sharing it with us.

How wonderful is this? Here I have the chance to talk with fellow fans of #Austenesque literature while also showcasing the final book of the Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy.

I delved through the book and think that this excerpt explores the mindset of a fifty-three-year-old Darcy as he contemplates his own mortality, and the impact his death would have on Elizabeth. Yes, he is channeling a bit of Mrs. Bennet—not her distracted fear, but rather her very rational understanding of the impact of her husband’s much-anticipated death. I felt that an inquisition by the head of the British Secret Services—M or General Lord Richard Fitzwilliam—would illuminate best.

I look forward to your comments.

Chapter Three Excerpt

November 12, 1835

Darcy could not recall the passage to Selkirk being this rough. He had barely crested the rise above Pemberley before his body began to complain. His superior seat could not insulate his aging joints against the jolts, even though Praetor’s gait, as always, was silky and confident.

One would think that the Universe is urging me to delay my journey—or, perhaps, to turn back and take the coach and enjoy the plush comfort of a well-sprung chassis rolling over twenty miles of good road. If I did so, I could ask Elizabeth whether she wished to accompany me and spend a few pleasurable days with her sister and nephews while I examine the estate’s books with Richard.

His heart squeezed as he contemplated the delight of spending time alone with the most interesting woman of his acquaintance, now or in any age. Although the infamous Meryton assembly and the Netherfield ball took place twenty-five years ago, Elizabeth still mesmerized and captivated him.

How long and how short it had been.

Taking joy in Elizabeth’s company on the way to Selkirk would be an unconscionable indulgence on his part. Greed struggled with his better self, calling out that he needed to bank her delicious smiles against a time when she would frown in worry over his final sickbed.

When Elizabeth had joined him in the breakfast room that morning, she was subdued. Any wife may have chatted up her husband about his journey or the weather or the roads—as did Mrs. Darcy over the morning’s rolls and coffee. That effort would have served to label the lady as being agreeably engaged in her husband’s affairs. However, that cold and utterly proper civility when delivered by Elizabeth Darcy betrayed a lowered spirit, for she was not another woman.

No, her habitual warmth had been lacking. What nagged at him was that Elizabeth had been so unremittingly pleasant—not teasing, not playful, not brimming with her usual Lizziness.

Perhaps Elizabeth was tired of his presence, at long last beginning to relate to him as other women of the ton did to their husbands. He shuddered at this thought. Mayhap the fading of their passion, either by his design or from natural causes, would free her to seek new happiness after her mourning ended. That would give him a clear conscience to leave her side, however reluctantly, and pass into eternity.

Darcy tamped down these rebellious thoughts.

He finished his journey along the banks of the Derwent and turned beneath Selkirk’s great portico before the Sun lowered itself into the Irish Sea. His welcoming committee—Richard, Lydia, and the twins—was assembled on the landing.

Lydia glided toward him. “Welcome, Brother. I trust you left my sister in good health?” The words were warm, but her tone—something Darcy had learned to read much as he would a cloud bank above the Peak—left a frozen rime.

The three men stepped forward and shook his hand. The pretty completed, the fourteen-year-olds vanished, and Lydia turned Darcy over to Hill, the butler, to be escorted into Selkirk’s depths. The earl trailed behind.

Standing before the door leading into Darcy’s usual apartment, the pair paused as Mr. Hill bowed away. Richard’s usually inscrutable face exhibited a plethora of emotions. Without so much as a by-your-leave, he barged past Darcy into the sitting room, stopped in a shaft of sunlight, and spun to face his cousin. Richard’s well-tailored form was cast into a lava-like glow as if he were Mars freshly armored in Vulcan’s best. Darcy cocked his head to one side, quizzing his cousin with a glance.

“Get in here and shut that door,” Richard growled. “We cannot allow any ears but ours the pleasure of this conversation.”

Darcy knew to be on his guard when his cousin took that tone—a dripping blend of irony, sarcasm, and spleen. This timbre made enemies of the realm quail when “M” used it.

He turned his back on Richard and, in a controlled motion, closed the door. “From your manner, dear Cousin, you have something caught in your craw. Well, out with it! We shall resolve nothing unless you lay your bill of particulars before me.”

An inchoate sound rumbled from Richard’s throat. He threw his hands into the air and rushed to a sideboard where a full decanter rested. Shaking his head, the earl sloshed three fingers of amber nectar into a crystal goblet and downed the liquor in one swallow.

He dropped his chin to his chest before rounding on Darcy, using the spent cup as a pointer. “You blithering idiot! What are you up to? I thought you had washed all of that foolishness out of your system decades ago!”

Darcy was astonished. “Of what are you accusing me? If it is nothing specific, I would suggest that you are missing your afternoon lie-down and have become querulous. As for me, after a long day in the saddle, I could benefit from an equally lengthy soak. Perhaps we should withdraw to our respective corners and resume civil relations at dinner.”

By this time, the level in Richard’s glass had been replenished, and he poured Darcy a drink and thrust it at him. “Do not be glib with me, Darcy. Playing the innocent will earn you no relief. Just be thankful it is I and not Lydia who is conducting this interview, although you have not escaped that sublime pleasure. My wife will confront you later. I am merely the opening act. Allow me to attempt to breach that infuriating obtuseness you so charmingly effect.”

He poked a stiffened forefinger trembling with suppressed rage into Darcy’s chest. “Sit.”

Darcy’s knees cracked beneath the digit’s force. Falling back into a well-upholstered wingback, Darcy’s height advantage was erased. Richard assumed his position on the high ground by the fireplace. “Why is it that every twenty-five years or so, somebody has to drag you out of whatever dark hole you scurry into? Have you never figured out that you cannot hide from the world? Last time it was Elizabeth who laid a piece of lumber aside your thick skull. Now, I have been delegated to soften you up before Lydia sinks her claws into your hide. What were you thinking? Have you learned nothing?”

Darcy wearily interrupted his cousin’s harangue. “Specifics, Richard. Specifics. Who is suggesting that I have been less than civil?”

Richard exploded. “That is just it, Darcy! You are too civil! When you get like that, throwing every which way your infuriating politeness that comes off as mockery, everybody in the room wants to wring your neck—most of all me! There is one person, though, who does not. Rather, she worries herself to distraction trying to unlock the puzzle that hides behind your forehead. I am speaking of Elizabeth!”

“Elizabeth?” Darcy sputtered, now fully engaged. “What has my wife to do with any of this?”

“She wrote to my wife. And when Lydia gets her wind up about something, especially if it has to do with any of her sisters, I have learned to batten down my hatches. That it was Elizabeth only made it more of an issue because your wife always rises to the occasion. For her to unburden herself to Lydia…”

His insides curdled, Darcy vaulted to his feet and paced to the window. There he stood staring into Selkirk Dale, one hand on the frame supporting his weight while the other was fisted behind his back, its thumb worrying the forefinger.

What do you think? Do you like Richard and Lydia as much as I do? Do you want to slap Darcy even if you do not know yet what has happened? I hope so 😉

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Review of “Any Fair Interference” by Nan Harrison

Today I am bringing you the review of Any Fair Interference by Nan Harrison.

To be a fool is one thing, to be a fool for love is something else altogether.

SHORTLY AFTER THE PRECIPITOUS DEPARTURE of Mr Bingley and his party from Netherfield Park, disaster strikes Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s family. Not only is Mr Bennet ill, Longbourn and indeed all of Meryton is struggling through one of England’s worst winters. Elizabeth draws on every strength to care for her family, but faces the alarming prospect of losing both her father and her home. Her lonely struggles lead her to revise her opinion of a certain gentleman, and she finds unexpected solace in dreams of Mr Darcy.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY BELIEVES HE CAN ESCAPE his attraction to Elizabeth by leaving Netherfield. He soon finds himself snowbound at Pemberley, where forced isolation compels him to contemplate his duty, and contrast it with dreams of his heart’s desire. No matter how he considers it, though, he feels he cannot have Elizabeth, the one he truly loves.

FORTUNATELY DARCY’S FRIENDS and his family–Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and the Hursts–feel far differently than he, and soon even the most unlikely allies have come together to help him see that happiness is the highest consideration of all. But will he and Elizabeth find the courage to follow their hearts before it is too late?

I have enjoyed reading this way to love. Darcy follows canon: flies from Netherfield to protect his friend but also himself. However, things change a lot after the Netherfield ball.

Even if I normally do not like Caroline Bingley, she is the one that makes a lot of the changes happen, unintentionally because she is invited by a “friend” to spend the Season with her and other friends. I find Caroline’s story a bit like unfinished, but it is totally necessary to have other happy endings. (She is being used by that friend but she does not realise). I would have expected a tiny bit more after what we read.

The Hursts, what a discovery! To be honest, I have always been indifferent to this couple but I have loved them from almost the beginning, and not only because of the advice that he gives Bingley.

Elizabeth dreaming of Mr. Darcy is at the same time sweet and heartbreaking due to the reason for those dreams: she is extremely alone.

Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam: great matchmakers whenever I see them plotting! Anne too!!

Bingley was convinced that Jane did not love him back, as in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, however, once he is decided to come back after the ill tidings, he does everything to help.

Once, headstrong obstinate Darcy, is pushed to follow his heart, he is super helpful and caring. I know that that is what he should be with the woman he loves, but I still loved it.

I should mention all the Bennet sisters and how they mature. Not only they realise that Wickham is a bit annoying by always telling his misfortunes, and how their behaviour may affect them, but also they help each other and protect each other too. Charlotte is as usual very sensible but not Mr. Collins.

Last but not least, I believe that I prefer this Lady Catherine to this Mrs. Bennet!

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